Bleak Beauty Redux

Last year, I worked on this winter hydrangea image which then led to a couple more in a certain palette of yellow/green/brown cast neutrals inspired by Andrew Wyeth's palette and then it picked up an indigo ink tinted scheme. The more graphic motifs/images created by a blank snow canvas against the stark winter flora started to take on a feel of Japanese Prints. I liked this a lot and this year decided to do a couple more and I've put them all together in one place- a digital book called Bleak Beauty.

I like how it captures an important strategy for the coming winter months- think beautiful thoughts. Freezing cold weather is much more tolerable re imagined as a few graphic ink strokes in shades of indigo. The images also track a year of developing this kind of image making process- textured, digitally manipulated photographs. Putting them in a book format on the Issuu platform is also a new way of creating short narratives or visual moods that I've been exploring.

I recently got an Android phone and Issuu just released a mobile version for Android, so this book is optimized to view on a phone. I've also made some of the images available as free wallpapers- mainly because I wanted some for myself. I'll post again on this subject but there's definitely a different world of media distribution that's happening on phones. This blog is slow and hard to navigate on a phone, can't watch the videos- the digital book- where you just finger swipe to the next page- almost perfect.


I recently ordered some Plaintain Oil to make some salve with. The oil is from the leaves of Plantago Major or Common Plantain. I've been reading many references to its use as a vulnery (wound healing), it's anti inflammatory properties and abilities to draw out bites. The latter is indicated in the 15th century woodcut of it above - I presume that's what the significance of the scorpion on the left is.

It's one of the 12 common weeds selected for the Quadra Medicinale project- which is when it first drew my attention. Then this post by a NYC herbalist intrigued me further. Although the claims by ethnobotanists and herbalist are strong the evidence so far that I can find are weak or considered insufficient.

Still worth a shot though and having trialled a few salve and ointment recipes and now happy with the actual base ingredient/combination, I'm ready to move on to adding the herbal ingredients. I do really like the weed/ common availability aspect, although using an oil now, I might consider trying out a fresh leaf version next summer when its pretty much everywhere.

+ OGMedia:Beth Chatto


At the farmer's market, this week there were beautiful evergreen wreaths, branches and trees to celebrate the season. The word evergreen is beautiful and hopeful, the colors, especially when things are getting fairly wintry, uplifting and the scent is transporting.

Evergreen trees immediately suggest landscape, not only as motif, but also scale- you notice the expanse of sky and the mountains beyond or whatever else is in the image. I went back to take a look at that image of the large pine at Wave Hill which then inspired me to work on another image of some snowy pines in the Catskills I took last year. I really like this waxy, blue green tint- I might have to go to the NYBG and take some more photos in their conifer arboterum to work on in a similar vein.

I recently discovered Juniper Ridge Siskiyou Cedar Incense. I love that the product is wildcrafted and as they describe it themselves- it's not perfumery- it just smells like a crackling fire in the great outdoors and in this case a particular California landscape. I also recently discovered Tallba Swedish Pine soap, beautiful scent and detail on the soap and the packaging is gorgeously vintage. Coincidentally I was intitally drawn to the Juniper Ridge incense at wholefoods because of it's elegantly stark packaging.

All this evergreen goodness is also put together as featured supplies to kick off the newly revamped supplies section of this site.

Contemplating Berries

I don't know what kind of berries these are, maybe Hawthorn. If they are then they are edible, full of nutrients,vitamins and minerals according to well known NYC wild foods expert Wildman Steve Brill. He also says they have medicinal properties and can be infested with insects. But I don't know if they are Hawthorn berries and in truth, besides my general lack of knowledge of berries, I also have a learned or conditioned response to these tantalizing, colorful things as - poisonous. Clearly these are not as I see birds eating them.

I wouldn't normally dwell on the subject but as the topic of urban foraging and the information about it increases, it's an interesting notion to think about the abundant availability of food and medicine, free- Central Park is full of them. In scarce times, not to mention it's relevance to local, carbon footprint issues etc it's a fascinating and timely subject. It would be fantastic if you could take a picture and something like Google's Goggles or some other app could tell you what it was, was it edible and whether it was ready to eat. In the meantime, I'm hunting and gathering as many foraging blogs and twitterers that I can to learn more.

+ GreenKraft:Fallen Leaf Plates

Late Autumn Walks

After months of not being able to walk in Central Park with my fosterdog because he was too dog reactive, the situation reverses. He's now come along with his training far enough to start exposing him to more dogs so we now take about four long walks a week- from 110th st to 80th st and back. He has mixed feelings about this new enterprise - half of him really likes all the interesting new stimuli, half of him is wound tight as a spring dealing with all these 'scary' dogs.

I, on the other hand am thrilled to be regularly immersed in the late autumn landscape. I watch gangs of birds feast on plump berries. I see Gingko foragers stooped to collect the foul smelling fruit that they prize. There is some pale yellow winter jasmine in bloom. The landscape is painted with a fairly broad range of colors still, there's greens and yellows and berry accents that keep the more sombre monochrome of dead leaves and stark branches in check.

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